The
Project

The UK government administrates a plethora of harms over migrants, often discreetly through every day border control and management practices.

The border, the home, reporting centres, and detention facilities, harm is administered in differing ways across these various sites, yet together they successively and deliberately steer migrants towards increasing levels of precarity and ultimately, deportability. In emphasising the inherent interconnectedness of different forms of harm operating through border enforcement practices, this website is designed to foster better understanding of the lived experiences of seeking asylum in Britain, enabling users to explore in particular the harmful impact of Home Office reporting.

This website was created as part of an ESRC funded academic project, “Reimagining Violence: bureaucracy, destitution and imminent force in the UK asylum system” conducted by Dr Amanda Schmid-Scott working as a postdoctoral fellow in Geography at Newcastle University. A Geography Catalyst fund also contributed to funding the website. The project draws on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2016 and 2018, including focus groups and in-depth interviews with asylum-seekers and asylum support workers based in Salford and Bristol, as well as 11 months of participant observation as a signing support volunteer at Patchway Police Station, the Home Office reporting centre for the region, located on the outskirts of Bristol. Signing support groups are local groups operating in various locations throughout the UK, which offer emotional and practical support to asylum-seekers, or “signers” during their reporting appointments.

The testimonies are spoken by actors but the stories are real. Names have been changed and identifiable features removed in order to protect anonymity.

LATEST POLICY UPDATE

In January 2020, Migrants Organise, supported by the Public Law Project (PLP), published an in-depth report detailing the failings of the reporting regime. Following this, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and after further pressure from dozens of migrants’ rights organisations who threatened bringing legal action against the Home Office, the Home Office shifted the requirement to report from in-person to reporting by telephone. The Home Office then announced it would shift the requirement to reporting by telephone as a standard requirement and from April 2022, this was largely implemented instead of attending a Home Office reporting centre.

While the decision to shift to telephone reporting shows progress from the Home Office, reporting in person still occurs for many people on immigration bail, and individuals are not permitted to request telephone reporting themselves. Home Office guidance currently states that when considering appropriate reporting conditions, the caseworker must ‘consider the person’s vulnerability, removability and assessed risk of harm to the general public when deciding the type and frequency of reporting’.

Also significantly, the mental, physical and financial impact of reporting for years on end has already taken its toll on thousands of migrants, and who continue to be subjected to demeaning surveillance strategies, including GPS tagging. Both reporting and tagging as bail conditions can have a similar impact in terms of how they restrict people’s lives and affect mental and physical health.

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